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Cats & Coffee: NHL Draft, Awards; Preseason Schedule

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

It's time to welcome the next batch of Florida Panthers.

The Panthers are currently slated to make a total of six selections at this week's NHL Draft, which will be held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23.

As the best team not to make the playoffs this season, the Panthers will head into the first round of the draft with the 15th overall selection. In addition to their first-round pick, Florida will also select once in six of the draft's seven rounds.

Overall, the Panthers hold the 15th, 34th, 123rd, 139th, 170th and 201st picks.

At last year's draft, the Panthers added five new players to their burgeoning pool of prospects, including right winger Owen Tippett (40th overall), center Aleksi Heponiemi (40th overall) and defenseman Max Gildon (66th overall).

Who will the Panthers select this year? Stay tuned our Draft Central to find out! https://www.nhl.com/panthers/team/draftcentral

NHL AWARDS

The season is over, but there's still hardware to be handed out.

Aleksander Barkov and Roberto Luongo will each head to Las Vegas this week, as the best regular-season players in a wide range of categories will be honored at the 2018 NHL Awards on Wednesday, June 20.

After finishing second in voting in 2016, Barkov is once again nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy, which is awarded to "the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."

Barkov, 22, led the Panthers with a career-best 78 points while accumulating only 14 penalty minutes, the fewest among six NHL forwards who averaged at least 21 minutes of ice time per game.

Already a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, Luongo is nominated for a different kind of award this season, one that in many ways carries a bit more weight than the hardware handed out to the league's top goaltender.

Luongo is one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey" - qualities the veteran netminder has in spades.

At 39, Luongo overcame injuries to both his hand and groin to help backstop the Panthers within one point of a playoff spot this season, finishing with an 18-11-2 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. More important than his on-ice contributions, however, was how Luongo, a Parkland resident for nearly a decade, did his part in helping the South Florida community navigate through the tragedy at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The awards will be broadcast on NBCSN and Sportsnet at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

PRESEASON SCHEDULE

It's never too early to start thinking about next season.

The Panthers released their full 2018-19 preseason schedule this past week, which will include seven total games, including an exciting double-header at BB&T Center and two neutral-site contests.

After kicking off their preseason slate with a double-header at home against the Nashville Predators on Sept. 17, the Panthers will embark on a four-game road trip, with stops in Montreal, Tampa and Tulsa, Okla. - a franchise first.

Florida will face their intra-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the final three games of their preseason. In addition to a home game for each club, there will be a neutral-site game played at the Amway Center in Orlando on Sept. 27.

For the full preseason schedule, please visit HERE.

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

- We had our first group of our summer program come to BB&T Center. 

- We helped support the Bokamper's Ball Buster Challenge, benfitting the Florida Panthers Foundation.

- We celebrated National Mascot Day!

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- It was the long pause that Aaron Ekblad will never forget

At 25, the Panthers are just hitting their stride

Have you seen our new 25th anniversary logo yet!? 

- Here are 5 European skaters the Panthers could take in this year's draft

- Here are 5 North American skaters the Panthers could take in this year's draft

- REWIND: After a trip to the minors, Denis Malgin's season really took off

- Randy Moller joined this week's episode of Territory Talk to share some stories and help break down the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

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